The Heat Is On – Rediscovering ‘Desert Fury’ (US 1947 – 96 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - Oct 24, 2014

Beautifully shot in Technicolor and unfairly slated by critics at the time, the rather forgotten ‘Desert Fury’ has gained a cult following over the years, as well as a well deserved critical re-appraisal. A torrid melodrama featuring strong female roles and high fashions of the time, it deserves to be far better known than it is.

Chuckawalla, Nevada, is a small mining town practically run by Fritzi Haller (Mary Astor), the tough owner of a local bordello and casino. Fritzi’s obstinate daughter Paula (Lizabeth Scott), has been expelled from high-school and so returns home where she soon falls for small-time gangster …

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Best Laid Plans – Rediscovering ‘Bloody Friday’ / ‘Blutiger Freitag’ (Germany 1972 – 97 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - Oct 22, 2014

Based on true events, the 1972 German-Italian co-production ‘Blutiger Freitag’ is an exiting and often vicious story of a bank heist and the subsequent getaway. While it falls firmly in the exploitation category it does at least take time out to develop the story’s characters, unsavory though they are.

After escaping from a Munich court, lowlife criminal Heinz (Raimund Harmstorf), and his partner Luigi (Gianni Macchia), begin planning a bank robbery using machine guns stolen from a nearby army base. Along with Luigi’s naïve and pregnant girlfriend Heidi (Christine Böhm) and her brother Christian (Amadeus August), they take hold of a …

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Penny Singleton (1908 – 2003)

Posted in Rewind by - Oct 21, 2014

Lovely Penny Singleton had tremendous screen presence and, although her career was sporadic, she proved early on to be a talented actress, comedienne, singer and dancer. Although she should have had better opportunities, Penny did find everlasting fame playing one of the golden ages favourite housewives.

Born Mariana Dorothy Agnes Letitia McNulty in Philadelphia, on 15th September 1908, Singleton’s screen career began in 1930 when she was billed as Dorothy McNulty. After co-starring in a handful of second features, Penny finally came to prominence when she had a supporting role in a hit comedy-sequel.

Playing spunky nightclub singer Polly Byrnes in the …

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Checkmate – Rediscovering ‘Return from the Ashes’ (GB 1965 – 105 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - Oct 16, 2014

A wonderful movie that’s sadly fallen by the wayside; ‘Return from the Ashes’ is one of those British thrillers that came and went without much fanfare. Based on Hubert Monteilhet’s French novel “Le Retour des Cendres”, it’s a cracking suspenser that, for those that have actually seen it, remains an enduring favourite.

A few years after the war, Stanislas Pilgrin (Maximilian Schell) a conniving Polish chess champion, is reunited with his older wife Michele (Ingrid Thulin), a concentration camp survivor and doctor. Pilgrin is conducting an affair with Michele’s beautiful stepdaughter Fabi (Samantha Eggar), all the while plotting to get rid …

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Countdown to Murder – Rediscovering ‘Graduation Day’ (US 1981 – 96 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - Oct 14, 2014

1981 was a prolific year for the slasher movie. Some well-known titles included ‘The Prowler’, ‘Final Exam’ ‘Happy Birthday to Me’ and ‘The Burning’. Another title released that year was ‘Graduation Day’, a formulaic High School horror, but while it’s no piece of art, it does what it sets out to do.

At Midvale High, aspiring athlete Laura Ramstead (Ruth Ann Llorens) collapses and dies from a heart attack after finishing a 30 second sprint. Soon afterwards, a tracksuit wearing killer with a stopwatch begins slaying her friends on the school track team one by one. Is the killer the bad-tempered …

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Without a Trace – Rediscovering ‘Death Occurred Last Night’ / ‘La Morte Risale a Ieri Sera’ (Italy 1970 – 98 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - Oct 12, 2014

With a top European cast and a gripping storyline, the largely unknown Italian picture ‘Death Occurred Last Night’ is an engrossing crime drama as well as an excellent character study.

When his mentally retarded daughter goes missing, widower Amanzio Berzaghi (Raf Vallone) turns to Chief Inspector Duca Lamberti (Frank Wolff) for help in finding her. Although she is 25 years old, Donatella’s mental age is only 3, which is why she is kept locked in their apartment while her father is at work. Fearing that she has fallen into the hands of a notorious pimp, Inspector Lamberti and his partner Mascaranti …

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Holding Court – Rediscovering ‘Judicial Consent’ (US 1994 – 100 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - Oct 12, 2014

Starting out looking more like an erotic thriller, the 1994 crime drama ‘Judicial Consent’ actually turns out to be a pretty good courtroom suspenser. There were similar (and better) movies of its type released that same year (‘The Client’ and ‘Disclosure’), but this rain-soaked thriller is fairly gripping with a talented cast and a rather surprising culprit.

Distinguished Judge Gwen Warwick (Bonnie Bedelia) meets a young clerk, Martin (Billy Wirth) in a library one day. Bored with her staid husband (Will Patton), Gwen begins a brief affair with the charming library worker. Soon afterward, her old mentor and close …

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Girl Interrupted – Rediscovering ‘The Fifth Floor’ (US 1978 – 80 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - Oct 06, 2014

With a terrific cult cast and a terrifying premise supposedly based on a true story, ‘The Fifth Floor’ is a pretty good if sometimes sleazy thriller, with a genuine sense of dread permeating throughout.

After collapsing at a discotecque in an apparent suicide attempt, likable young Kelly McIntire (Dianne Hull) finds herself carted off to The Fifth Floor, an asylum for the crazed, run by a lecherous orderly (Bo Hopkins). In truth, Kelly was intentionally poisoned, and her scumbag boyfriend has no intention of getting her out. Seemingly alone, she now has to do all that she can to protect herself, …

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Doctors, Lawyers and genial Gentlemen – Lew Ayres (1908 – 1996)

Posted in Rewind by - Oct 05, 2014

A talented actor who often played the nice guy; Lew Ayres characters were often quiet in nature but strong in stature. A prolific television performer he also starred in some large-scale epics and cult second features.

Born Lewis Frederick Ayre III on December 28th 1908, Lew Ayres had no intention of being an actor. Dropping out of college, he was spotted by a talent scout and entered movies in 1929. That same year he co-starred with Greta Garbo in her final silent movie; ‘The Kiss’ (’29), and it was only a year later that Ayres starred in the film for which …

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White Weddings and Red Herrings – Rediscovering ‘Schizo’ (UK 1976 – 109 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - Sep 26, 2014

I’ve always enjoyed Pete Walker’s Seventies horror movies, they’re so very British and often wonderfully entertaining. Although this is not his best movie, (that honour goes to ‘Frightmare’), ‘Schizo’ remains my guilty pleasure in the entire Walker canon.

Following the wedding announcement of famed ice-skater Samantha Grey (Lynne Frederick), a figure from her past begins stalking her. This man; William Haskin (Jack Watson) apparently murdered Samantha’s mother during a heated argument when she was a young girl. Samantha fears that, now he has been released from prison, Haskin now wants to do the same to her. The only problem is that …

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